Brexit latest: EU and UK set to cement trade positions ahead of crunch talks

Jacob Jarvis
Getty Images

The EU and UK are preparing to sign off on their Brexit negotiation red lines ahead of crunch trade talks.

The EU27 will gather in Brussels to confirm their mandate for negotiations, with an announcement expected this afternoon.

Leaders from across mainland Europe have suggested that access to the free market will be dependent on Britain's willingness to conform to its standards and regulations.

Boris Johnson and his team have meanwhile argued that some level of divergence will be necessary to fulfil its future aims for the UK - despite the EU suggesting such differences could hamper a deal.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signing the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU agreement (PA Media)

After the Brexit date of January 31 Britain entered an 11-month transition period, in which the prime minister has insisted he will secure a fresh agreement with the bloc. Its figureheads have said they feel this timeframe might be too tight.

The inner cabinet will gather in Downing Street to discuss Britain's side of the negotiations today and is set to outline a mandate on Thursday.

Europe adviser David Frost has insisted Britain will diverge from EU rules (REUTERS)

They are expected to push for a Canada-style deal, despite Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, having ruled this out. The PM and his Europe adviser David Frost have outlined this position in recent weeks - with the latter insisting again that straying from EU rules is an integral part of the Governmnent's Brexit planning.

The PM’s official spokesman, asked about the trade talks on Monday, said: “The UK’s primary objective in the negotiations is to ensure that we restore our economic and political independence on January 1 2021.”

The EU's chief Brexit negotiatior Michel Barnier (REUTERS)

As the positions are outlined fishing is set to be a key issue - with member states having called for access to UK waters. Mr Johnson said in a speech last week: "British fishing grounds are first and foremost for British boats”.

Another point of contention according to leaked documents linked to the EU mandate will be artefacts of European origin which have been kept in Britain.

Greece has expressed a desire to demand back the Parthenon marbles. Downing Street has insisted the items, held in the British Museum, are not up for negotiation.

It comes as Emmanuel Macron yesterday said talks would be "tense" and added: "It is not certain that we will have a global deal by the end of the year."

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